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Newbie - Bulk Aging

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jharmon52

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Please bear with me because I'm new at this. I'm at the point of degassing. I've read many threads that discuss the benefits of letting wine age in the carboy before bottling.

Since I'm new at this, I've followed the winemaker's instructions to the letter. It's Merlot, by the way. So, when they say to bottle the wine on day 28 (or thereabouts), it's in my wine's best interest to let it mature in the carboy for 3 months, 6 months?

While I'm anxious to see how it comes out, I would rather wait longer for a better wine.

I read one thread that suggested adding one tsp of K-Meta every three months.
 

RiverRat

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I, too, am new, but after reading the multiple suggestions on multiple threads to let the wine age in the carboy, I think I am convinced. I currently have two kits coming up on the manufacture's bottling time, but I think I am going to go bulk. With that, I have read to leave whites for at least six months and reds for nine months. Again, I have not tested this theory, but I do trust in the advise given here. At any rate, it seems the longer in the carboy, the better for the wine.

As far as the K-Meta, I am under the impression the dose is 1/4 tsp every three months, but again, you may want that confirmed by a seasoned vintner. Good luck, fellow newbie!
 

Johnd

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You're both correct, 1/4 tsp per 6 gallons, every three months is the rule of thumb if you cannot test your sulfite levels and adjust based upon pH.

The rule of thumb will keep your wine safe through bulk aging, along with reasonably steady cool temperatures, a properly topped up vessel, and a properly functioning airlock.
 

Tnuscan

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Accurate SO2 levels and getting that head space as close to the bung as possible are two very important goals at this point.

1/4 tsp k-meta (so2) and 1 & 1/2 inches (1.5) of HS helps keep the nasties at bay. Oxygen reduces your free so2 quicker than most realize. I keep a can of Private Preserve to fill the small gap of HS for added protection. I get that from my LHBS or Amazon.
 

heatherd

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I agree with you all, and can say that bulk-aging for six months has made a big difference in my wines. Specifically, with 6 months of aging I don't get sediment in my bottles; the wines I made by the kit directions in the first year, when I was still on a steep learning curve, had enough sediment that I was losing 1/2 a glass of wine to it from each bottle. With the aging, I only use bentonite to clear the wine; initially I was also using superkleer KC. My wines degass without additional effort after six months, however I ALWAYS check for gas before bottling because I have learned my lesson after drinking gassy wine that I bottled in error. I use 1/4 tsp per 6 gallons and that works well.

I also bottle age at least a year before drinking reds. Our whites we often drink shortly after bottling.

I have a Mosti Meglioli Masters Amarone (with grape and raisin packs) that is coming up on two years in the bottle and six months bulk-aging, and it is getting really smooth and tasty.
 

RiverRat

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Thank you for mentioning head space - this is something I have not dealt with since I have always bottled by the directions. Do you recommend topping up during the bulk-aging process if one were to take small samples along the way?
 

Ajmassa

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As soon as you open a kit just grab a sharpie and cross out anywhere you "6 weeks". Once you accept this fact all those other specified instructions and timeframes become suggestions. And like heatherd said, the degassing and clearing and remaining sediment will happen organically with time and racking. Because Even tho they have you add clearing agents, degas like a madman, and rack multiple times in a month and a half, you'll never get 100% of all that.
I started kits this year. If I bottled at 6 weeks I'd not feel comfortable giving out to friends like I do with juice batches. Make yourself look awesome and give out some quality stuff. 2 reds are at about week 10. Due for a racking in about a month. The difference in taste from week 6 to week 10 is remarkable. Much less young and only getting better. And still dropping out some noticeable sediment.
Wait it out. Once you do and start to taste the uptick in quality from your patience it becomes easier to accept.
 

Johnd

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Thank you for mentioning head space - this is something I have not dealt with since I have always bottled by the directions. Do you recommend topping up during the bulk-aging process if one were to take small samples along the way?
Yes, that's exactly what you should do, top up with a similar wine, keep your head space as small as possible.

Then, buy more carboys, make more wine, overwhelm yourself to the point where your wine ages just because you don't have time to bottle. I have a MM Meglioli Amarones that I started in '15, been through a 6 month barrel ride, back in carboy, ready to bottle for 6 months, haven't tasted it in a year. Procrastinators, this is your hobby......
 

Ajmassa

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Yes, that's exactly what you should do, top up with a similar wine, keep your head space as small as possible.



Then, buy more carboys, make more wine, overwhelm yourself to the point where your wine ages just because you don't have time to bottle. I have a MM Meglioli Amarones that I started in '15, been through a 6 month barrel ride, back in carboy, ready to bottle for 6 months, haven't tasted it in a year. Procrastinators, this is your hobby......

Wahahahahaha. I actually laughed out loud there. Well put. This deserves more than "like this post" because you nailed it. This is gospel!
 

freqflyer

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What is the difference between six months in a carboy vs six months in a bottle? That has never been fully explained to me
 

willie

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What is the difference between six months in a carboy vs six months in a bottle? That has never been fully explained to me
I would say the difference is you are not using your bottles, wine is dropping more sediment and clearing very well. I bulk age grape wines but fruit wines I do not.

Will
 

Scooter68

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Yup - As crazy as it sounds, I started making wine shortly before I retired. At first I had a hard time waiting things out and will admit that my first wine, blueberry, was only about 5 months old when I bottled it and about 2-3 weeks later we opened the first bottle. It was good BUT age helped it so much.

Now that I am fully retired - I have so many things going on that I have to remind myself that it's time to rack a batch. (Weird to be busier now than when I was working.)

BUT - I am getting antsy for warmer temps so I can start 3-4 new batches of wine. My primary wine making location - a second home next to our house - is set at 55 degrees to save on heating bills. So that means until outside temps are warm enough to maintain fermentation temps..... I wait. What can I say the wife wants to save money and this works. On the other hand the basement in winter stays right around 55 degrees - pretty good storage and drinking temps for wine once bottled.

I am a little worried because I'm down to 55 bottles of various wines - counting my reserve shelf. (1 bottle of each wine I've made so far)
 

freqflyer

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I'm not saying that aging doesn't help. I have a red zin that is at the two year old mark and it is wonderful.

I'm just asking how is it different to age in a 6 gallon bottle vs a 750ml bottle. I would think that after it is cleared it wouldn't matter
 

Ajmassa

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Even after it's cleared young wine will still drop out sediment. Obviously sediment in a corked bottle is staying in the bottle. In the carboy you now have the ability to rack it off.
Also with the same thought aging in a carboy allows you to taste, check levels and continue adjusting if needed. Bottling is very 'final'. It eliminates the ability to do anything to wine besides wait. Carboys allow racking, sulfiting, tannin addition, oaking......etc. all which can be done while "bulk aging". Just because your still tinkering and not letting it collect dust for a year doesn't mean your not "bulk aging". The term can be misleading. Bulk aging still requires, at minimum, racking and sulfiting every 3-4 months. And these rackings are beneficial to your wine in more ways than 1.
Clearing agents, degassing, and lees racked on the 6 weeks will not be 100%. Bulk aging in carboys ensures a better product.
 
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4score

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Also, while bulk aging in a carboy, you can control the oaking. "Winesticks" or spirals do impart quite a bit of oak to a 5-gallon carboy, so it's really nice to be able to taste along the way and meter the oak to taste. If in the bottle, game over.
 

heatherd

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I am a little worried because I'm down to 55 bottles of various wines - counting my reserve shelf. (1 bottle of each wine I've made so far)
@Scooter64, my "shelf of one of everything I have made" has turned into "a rack of everything I have made" now that I am over the 50 batch mark. :)
 

Scooter68

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Whoa that's some serious wine making!!! Great job. I started with 1 gallon batches and just expanded that last summer to 3 or 4 gallon batches. I'm a cheapskate and very light drinker - 1 to 3 glasses a week at most. I have I think 11 batches so far not counting the one I tossed - a terrible Strawberry that got that burnt rubber smell and I couldn't get rid of the smell and the taste was lousy.

Anyway - I'm jealous.

I'm going to reign in and probably stick with 5 varieties unless my First Tart Cherry batch is seriously good. My realm will be - in order of preference:

Peach
Black Currant
Blackberry
Blueberry
Black Raspberry

Hoping that this Tart Cherry turns out to be a winner. Should be starting that in the next month or so.
 

Floandgary

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What is the difference between six months in a carboy vs six months in a bottle? That has never been fully explained to me
No difference whatsoever ,,, to the wine! For you the consumer, there's CO2 and sediment to contend with. And if you wish to sweeten, flavor, or oak,, it's nigh on impossible to get past that cork!!! Thus leaving it in the carboy or a barrel (protected of course) for , lets say a year. You'll appreciate what Father Time can do for you...;)
 

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